SONS OF ELDERBERRY, is a fantasy about four good looking brothers, three parallel worlds, and Iltruar—the ancient power hidden deep within Elderberry's castle walls. It is a story of an unlikely friendship between the youngest son of Elderberry, Elias Rey, a mortal boy, Jaron Finley, and the beautiful Princess Elieli, daughter of King Gahein and Queen Falina of the fairy kingdom of Estraelia. Follow their story as they fight to protect Elderberry from Ilesar—the wickedness brought in by one of the brothers, and Sirusas—the greater evil without its walls, ever waiting for a chance to destroy it from within.
They arrived from the remote corners of the world until all were assembled around the oblong table in the windowless room. Sylanthia arose, acknowledging each one with a slight nod, but to Halinthius, her eyes lingered longest. She thought back to their first meeting, before his Sanction and ordination into the Order. 1100 years had passed, and he, like the rest, had not aged; his dark brown curls just brushing the top of his strong shoulders, and his gray eyes still holding the intensity of youth. She looked away. “I hope your report brings better news than mine.” From the center of the table, a transparent orb shot up, increasing in size as it rotated.
“It’s on the move again.” She leaned forward and placed her finger on the orb. “Here...” The spot enlarged showing a detailed view. She waved her hand and the orb spun slowly. “Here … and here.” The three areas were too close to the danger zone. “Elias will have to be moved.” She let her finger rest on the spot closest to the safe house.
Halinthius cleared his throat. “We should wait, Sylanthia—it vacillates.” The orb showed three dark masses erratically jutting out and then slowly drawing back as if seeking the scent of its prey.
The muscles under her smooth, olive-toned skin tightened. “If it detects Elias, it will move quickly.” She tapped Elias’ small town on the orb. “It’s too close!”
“Sylanthia, the child has been moved every few years of his life.” Halinthius’ eyes showed grave concern.
A wisp of long, dark hair fell across her face, and she pushed it behind her ear as she leaned forward to study the orb. Two of the dark masses moved steadily in opposite directions of the safe house, but one remained fixed, flickering slightly towards Elias’ location. Sylanthia searched the eyes of each of the eleven of the Order under her command. All they had worked towards for thousands of years depended on a young, fifteen year old boy, named Elias. “Move him.”
Liza never paid much attention to Jaron, although she saw him every day. She plopped down in the chair across from him, and slapped a slab of butter on top of her pancakes. He turned his head towards the window, and when the light hit his eyes, it surprised her. What an odd color—sky blue, although closer to white than blue. Why hadn't she noticed that before? She drank her juice and looked away. Where was Elias? Shouldn’t he have come downstairs by now? What if Jaron started talking to her? She narrowed her eyes, and grimaced. What if he asked her about her strange dreams again?
He stepped into the hallway, normally overflowing with busy students, but now empty. Why was it so quiet? Shouldn’t he hear the usual noises coming from the surrounding classrooms? A strange feeling swept over him, as the air thinned, and he fell back against the wall, gasping for breath. All of the sudden, an icy breeze whisked past his face, and something cold bumped him from behind.
He turned to see the gaunt face, and deep-set eyes of a boy. Elias jumped back as the boy thrust a narrow, leather pouch into his hands. “Destroy it, Elias! Destroy it!” His voice was thin and wispy, as if trapped in another realm, and then his body jerked, and moved forcefully backwards as if pulled by an invisible chord, his legs not moving of their own accord. A look of fear gripped his face as he desperately reached for Elias.
Elias’ room was dark, except for faint streaks of light that seeped across his floor from under the partially opened door. His hand twitched as it dangled over the side of his bed, and the golden snake slithered closer, stopping just in front of his fingers. It rose up like a striking cobra, and then let out a long hiss, as it methodically wrapped itself around and up his arm.
Sirusas swept briskly through the suite, the sword of Torihor glistening at his side. “Where is the boy?!” He raised his massive fist high in the air and slammed it through the door, sending splintered wood flying everywhere. One of his men, a broad-shouldered, well-dressed man named Barthusen, jumped back in fear, knowing all too well his master’s temper. Sirusas pulled the sword from its sheath, and pointed it directly at him. “Search this place for any sign of the boy and Ilesar!”
The morning sun had not rising high enough to warm the grassy knoll Samuel lay on, and his thin body shook violently from the frigid air. His anguished mind turned back to the prison where his brother remained a captive, and he wept bitterly.
It was late in the evening at Elderberry Castle. Elias sat on a soft rug sprawled over the cold, stone floor. He leaned back, and gazed into the warm fire. Samuel sat forward on the couch, engaged in deep conversation with Halinthius and Mathius, while Sylanthia lay in a lounger with a book propped open on her lap. She glanced over and saw Elias’ head jerk as he fought to stay awake.
“Oh!” she said, swinging her long legs off the lounger. “Of course, you must be tired!”
Samuel looked over at her, “No, I’m okay.” He returned to the conversation.
But Elias stood slowly, and yawned. “Yeah, I’m kind of tired. Where can I sleep?” He looked around the large room and spied a quiet corner with an over-sized chair. “That’ll do,” he said, pointing towards it.
Sylanthia chuckled. “Oh, that’ll never do! There’s a much better place than that!” She turned towards the stairs. “Come with me, Elias. You have your own room, actually rooms, here at the castle. You’ve always had them, you know.”
Hazy shades of green and gold gyrated rhythmically around them. It made Elias feel rather dizzy, like a fast-spinning ride at an amusement park. But at the same time, it brought him feelings of heightened elation, beyond anything he had ever experienced before. The swirling stopped, and they were suspended in midair in a large reception hall. Sylanthia locked her arm through Elias’, and Sigmund did the same.
“Don’t look down too suddenly,” she said, in a whisper, “… there’s no ground beneath your feet.”
Elias stumbled around a corner and saw several curious objects displayed in tall, glass shelves. At the far end of the hall, an oblong door made of solid silver, glistened, even though no light shone on it. As he neared the door, he saw that it was carved with fairies, men, and other unusual creatures.
He tried to turn the door knob, but it was locked. His eyes followed the contour of the long hallway and then settled back on one of the objects sitting on a shelf beside the oblong door. It was a small, silver box. When he opened it, a melodious tune filled the silent hallway. Inside the box there was a square block of silver. He turned the block over in his hand and examined it closer. He could see tiny words carved on its side.
“Follow me!” Halinthius motioned for Samuel and Elias to follow him through the portal into Schonerhafen Estate, Halinthius’ mansion in the rolling countryside of Austria. He had acquired Schonerhafen as part of his family’s inheritance in the beginning of the 14th century. He owned several estates throughout Europe, but as travel and technology had developed, and his identity became in danger of being questioned, he branched out to the Americas, Australia, and Africa. He owned as many as 20 estates and castles, all under a different name and identity, although he only inhabited two or three each century. The others were left to a careful conglomerate of lawyers and businessmen who governed the affairs of his estates separately for each of his identities, all under the watchful eye of Sigmund, and the Order of the Sanctified.
Jeoff led them to comfortable rooms with all the modern conveniences, including a 103" Panasonic plasma, but Elias was far too tired for a movie. He showered, and dressed in the pajamas that Jeoff had given him, and then crawled into bed, drifting off into an uncomfortable dream. …
A dark, faceless creature clapped his hands high above his head summoning wings of death. The beasts swooped down, viciously attacking the beings of light. Elias frantically fought to get out of their way, but they followed him as he flew. He flew faster, and one was nearly on him when it turned to stone and fell from the sky, breaking into small pieces. …
They followed Elieli through the chamber, and on through the ballroom, but instead of leaving the donjon the way the boys had entered, she took them down a long hallway, and then up a narrow flight of circular stairs that tightly hugged the castle’s stone wall. The evening sky greeted them as they neared the top of the sixth tower, and though they stepped out to a spectacular view of the woods and the tiny village far below, it was the stars that stood out the most. The heavens danced, as they twinkled brightly, setting off bursts of energy that filled the sky with a gentle fireworks of bluish-white lights.
Samuel pointed to the sky. “What is this? I’ve never seen the stars look like this!”
“It is the Dance of the Fairies,” said Elieli, gazing up at them. “They do look like stars, don’t they?”
Samuel glanced from one shining orb to the next. “They are stars, Elieli. Aren’t they?”
“No,” she said, with a sigh. “Not stars.” She looked at the boys, and then took a small, clear stone from her pocket, and held it up to the shimmering display of lights. “Look!” she exclaimed, pointing through the stone to the lights.
“Wow!” said Elias, with a gasp. “It’s hundreds of wood-fairies!” He could see them clearly now, even though they were miles away in the sky, lifting their magnificent wings slowly up and down in beautiful, synchronized patterns of dance.
Elieli led them to a grouping of large English oaks set back-to-back in the forest. “Eliga, eligas, eloi, liokken,” she said, softly, and a wide slit opened in the trunk of the largest tree allowing them to enter, and then closed after them.
Jaron spun around in a circle. “Wow!” Hundreds of wood-fairies sat in an open amphitheater made from the branches and boughs of the trees, entwined with green vines and silvery threads that formed into high-backed benches. The outdoor room was filled with docile, lyrical melodies played by a group of fairies that flew quietly above. The fairies turned sporadically towards Elias and Jaron, and gave them the fairy greeting, and then turned back to the event about to unfold.
Jaron stumbled over his words. “Hey, Eli—can we go see Elieli, ah, I mean the castle tonight?”
Elias studied his friend. He made a face. “Do you like her, or something?”
“What? Who?” Jaron waved to a friend across the hall.
“Elieli,” Elias said, coolly.
“Ah, sure, I guess so, ... as a friend.”
Elias wasn't convinced. He had seen the way Jaron looked at her. “Hmmm, just checking.”
Jaron's eyebrows rose.“Checking? Why? Do you like her?”
Elias shook his head.
“Cause, if you don’t, then, I might-”
Elias clenched his fists to his sides. “You can’t like her, Jaron!”
Jaron jumped back. “Why not? You said you didn’t!”
“But, she’s a fairy!”
“A fairy? C’mon Jaron.”
“Yeah? Well, I don’t care.”
“Well, maybe you should!” Elias leaned forward. “You don’t know anything about fairies!”
Jaron cocked his head to the side. “Do you?”
That took Elias aback. He knew very little about Elieli, or the fairies of Estraelia. “I guess not that much.” His eyes narrowed, and a grin spread across his face. “But, I know where to find out.”
The odd-shaped room was made of four half-spheres, each nestled within the other. At the center of the room and the smallest of the four, was earth. It was surrounded by the Order of the Sanctified; and then Elderberry Castle, accompanied by a few goodly creatures; and then the largest of them all, the Kingdoms of the Fairies … a sphere, within a sphere, within a sphere, within a sphere.
Each sphere had rows of high-backed cushioned chairs for its elite membership, with the Kingdoms of the Fairies having fifty chairs encircling the room—at which King Gahein and Queen Falina sat chatting with Falina’s sister Sheria; the Order of the Sanctified having twelve chairs, with most of its members already seated; Elderberry Castle having six, of which only Sigmund and William were present—along with an extra twenty chairs where goodly creatures sat; and Earth having only one chair, which for the time being, was empty.
A flash of lightning hit the 6th tower and the upper-most turret crumbled away, falling dangerously close to him. He watched in horror as the green and gold flag of Elderberry rippled to the ground, and then backed away and hid under the protective eaves of the Gate House as lightning came down like rain, striking the castle from all sides. His body shook, and he clutched Ilesar as he sank to the ground. His words came out choked and full of pain, “What have I done?”
The lightning reduced to a series of low rumbles, and an occasional flash in the distance, and then it was over. A sprinkling of light rain fell on the piles of rubble scattered throughout the court yard. The front entryway door opened, and two tall Ograkas with their heads bowed, walked out of the castle. They spoke in hushed tones as they passed by him. “What will become of Elderberry Castle?”
There was a knock on their door, “Psst! Elias, Jaron, Samuel? Open the door!”
Samuel opened it a crack and Elieli pushed her way in. She gave the room a quick glance and then grimaced. "Sorry, but you left the feast before I got to ask you.”
Samuel's eyes narrowed. “Ask us what?”
“If you want to go up on the 1st Tower, and watch the Sanction Fire!”
“What’s a Sanction Fire?” asked Jaron.
“Every time a new member of the Order receives their Sanction … oh,” she sighed, “...come on, I’ll show you!" She grabbed Jaron by the hand. "Do you have your seer stones?”
Elias swiped his off the desk, and Samuel’s waved his in the air, while Jaron rummaged through his pockets. His eyebrows knit together as he remembered that he had laid his on the table by the ballroom after he and Elias had used them to look closer at the painting of Estraelia on the ceiling. Elias had sworn that he had seen the fairies in the painting move. Jaron grimaced, “I can't believe it! I left mine by the ballroom.”
Elieli's eyes widened. “Oh! We better hurry then, because the Sanction happens in the ballroom, and that whole wing is locked down tight a few minutes before it begins!”
Tiatheisha opened the door carefully and stepped inside. It was dark and smelled rank, like something had died and been left unattended. “Meisha?” She glanced around at the clothes flung over the chair and on the floor, as she stepped softly through the room. “Meisha? Are you home?”
A cat jumped onto the table. “Oh!” She fell back, surprised, and then reached over and stroked its fur. It was scrawny and looked sick. “Max?” She picked him up. Something was terribly wrong. Meisha loved that cat! She pulled out a thin remote, and punched in a distress call. Mathius was there within three minutes. “Shhh!” Tiatheisha whispered, pointing to Meisha’s study, where a light shown under the door.
“Come on." William gestured for them to follow him."They don’t like to be out in the open.”
Elias bounded down the castle steps and out into the courtyard. “I don’t see them.” His eyebrows knit together. “Maybe they left.”
“No," William pointed straight ahead,"...they’re here.”
Jaron pushed past Elias. His face drew up in puzzlement as he glanced from one end of the courtyard to the other. “Where?” He jumped back when three boulders the size of small cars rolled up to the door, unfolded, and stood up.
The largest of the three offered his hand to Elias, “I’m Kragel.”
“Hello.” Elias shook his hand, and then his face brightened. “You’re an Ograken, aren’t you?”
“Not Ograken—Ograkas.” Halinthius grinned, and then greeted Kragel like they were old friends.
“Halinthius!” Kragel threw his stony arms around Halinthius’ waist and lifted him three feet off the ground.
Sylanthia leaned forward and whispered, “Halinthius and Kragel go way back—from when Kragel was a young Ograkas.”
Elieli's eyebrows pulled together as she gazed at the glass shelves filled with odd-looking things displayed in the hallway outside the World room. King Gahein picked up a small, golden square with strange characters etched in its sides, and showed it to her. “Do you hear this?” He turned it over. It made a swishing sound, and then everything went silent, even the light chattering Elieli had just heard coming from inside the room.
Barthusen leaned close to the screen. “Is that a portal?” He grunted. Portals could only be created by fairies, and wizards, and fairies didn’t like to interfere on earth. His eyes narrowed, and his breathing slowed. “It must be a wizard!” He paced the room. If he bothered Sirusas for nothing, it could mean his end. He needed to be sure. “Bring me Saulen.”
The guard pushed Saulen into the room. Barthusen pointed towards the screen. “What do you make of this?”
His arms and legs were tightly shackled, and Saulen teetered as if he couldn’t stand on his own. His voice came out in a hoarse whisper, “I don’t know.”
Barthusen squeezed the back of his neck and pushed his face into the screen. “Look closer…”
Saulen stared at the shaft of light blazing up into the sky. “…a portal?” he muttered, barely audible.
“That’s what I thought.” He turned to the guards and bellowed, “Contact Sirusas at once! A portal has opened!”
King Gahein waved his hand over the gyrating sphere in the center of the room, and repeated the words, “Eliga, eligas, eloi, liokken.” The sphere stopped spinning, and settled into the floor. It opened, and they stepped into it, and it rotated and descended further down beneath the floor.